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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Start (01/16/06)

TITLE: Changing the World
By Chelsea Pietsch


A tornado sweeps across the land, destroying homes and lives in violent fury...

...In the dark, sticky heat of the jungles, men pursue screaming women and children. A quick flash of a knife and blood waters the earth...

...A mother cradles her dead child in her arms, rocking back and forth, wailing. Then she grasps a knife and begins to prepare him to eat...

...Hidden in an alley, a gang beats up an elderly woman. Annoyed by the small contents of her purse, they smash her head with a bat and stroll off into the night...

...A woman stands almost naked, smiling brazenly. The passing men see only her body, and do not notice her empty, desperate eyes...

...What first appears to be a pile of rags, reveals on closer inspection a grim and dirty face. The people walking by ignore the frail figure, giving her a wide berth. Her thin hand holds only a few coins. She knows she will go hungry again tonight. The wind is icy and she huddles deeper into her rags. Her eyes search the faces of those passing her. She notices mixed reactions; some of pity, some of fear and some of disgust. One woman pauses and fingers the money in her pocket before walking on. Yet she walks on all the same. There's so much suffering in the world, what is the point of even trying? She'd probably spend it on drugs, she reasons. The lonely figure in the rags lies back helplessly and curses the world.

Church bells toll in the distance. She shudders at the sound. Her mind connects it to rejection and humiliation. "You can't come to the house of God dressed like that", they had said. She doesn't have any other clothes to wear. For the millionth time she ponders why God doomed her to this life. If she was only to suffer, why did He make her at all?

The bundle of rags she clutches close to her chest moves and begins to cry. If it wasn't for her child she would have given up long ago. Yet if she dies, so will her son. She lifts him to her grubby breast and feeds him. It wont be much longer now though. No food - no milk.

"Excuse me." A voice interrupts her gloomy thoughts and she hides the child instinctively. Warily, she meets the man's eyes. "I know it's not much but it's all I've got right now." Awkwardly, he holds out a paper bag. "I think you need it more than me." She snatches it from him and peers in greedily. A sandwich.

"Thanks", she rasps. She will survive another day. The man is still standing there. She meets his eyes again. What does he want?

"Umm. Will you be here tomorrow?" She glares at him suspiciously now. "It's just, maybe I could bring some more food then... and a blanket...?" Still she doesn't answer. Promises mean nothing to her. You can't eat promises. "Here... actually... have my jacket." He pulls off his jacket and gives it to her. She hesitates and he pushes it into her hands. "I'll come back tomorrow with more food, maybe we could talk?" Receiving no answer, he begins to walk away.

"Wait!" He turns hopefully. "What do you want from me?" She cries out angrily. "Why are you helping?" His face creases with disappointment and confusion.

"You don't want my help?"

"No! - well yes... I have nothing to give you in return!" She is embarrassed now and it makes her mad.

"That's ok. I just wanted to help you... coz I know it's what Jesus would do if he were here. Probly sounds strange, but he helped me and I want to help you. He loves you y'know...? I'll come back tomorrow with some more food." The woman nods and huddles back into her rags. She places the jacket carefully around her child and smiles as his lips turn pink instead of blue.

Her mind turns back to the mans words. She's heard of Jesus before, but isn't he the one with clean robes and a halo, surrounded by sheep? Doesn't he just love the good people - the churchgoers? How is he relevant to her? She devours the sandwich thoughtfully. Her stomach growls contentedly. Perhaps she'll ask that strange man more about it tomorrow - if he comes back.

The world we live in is so corrupted, how can we even hope to make a difference?

It's easy... just start.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Kamp01/24/06
I had a little trouble getting past the first 5 sentences, but at the point where the story really begins - with the hungry woman - your story is gripping; not "preachy" but surely motivating.
Jan Ackerson 01/24/06
A gripping picture of hope in a fallen world. Great writing skills in a powerful story.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/25/06
"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was naked and you clothed me, I was a stranger and you...": This story is a great example of "What you do unto the least of these, You have done it unto me"! Such a powerful lesson so brilliantly written. God Bless.
Cheryl Harrison01/25/06
The craftsmanship of your words grabbed my attention. You had me from the beginning, but when you began describing the movement of the rags and I realized a child was involved, I was a gonner. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking, and yes, convicting story.